Thursday, 28 November 2013

Frogs calling at dusk

Last night I heard another new frog as I tried to sleep. Two males, presumably, each perfectly replicating a swatted tennis ball, thwack thwack, thwack thwack, they went, but not quite synchronized. Striped Marsh Frogs, it seems.

I love these long late spring evenings but at bedtime the frogs are calling noisily: it’s rained again, the dam is full, and who doesn’t want to mate?
After a score of years, each seemingly introducing a new variety (memorably the high-decibel-`mi mi mi’ frog (as I call – possibly - the Victorian Smooth Froglet) for 2 insomniac years)

And they call all night. 11pm, 4am, 5am…why do they stop at 6.30am just as light creeps into this human’s bedroom?
And then there’s this handsome fellow (maybe the southern brown tree frog). When I move (plastic-potted) plants about from inside handsome pots I need to take care; some dry summer days I find a frog in every single one of these moist, cool spots. (I’ve just done it again; hellebores belatedly moved away from the front door and a Hosta – all huge, handsome leaf - thrust into each one.)
Frog presence is rather like a lucky charm; implying ecosystem health, you can look around the garden and bushland at honeyeaters (busy at the Salvia flowers), languorous butterflies and darting skinks, with misplaced complacence and say `see, I haven’t screwed it all up with my gardening and that tiny bit of herbicide (which shall remain – be strong - for the intractable)’.
Today it’s the turn of the Pobblebonk frogs (that’s their call: `bonk, bonk, pobble pobble bonk’) (aka Eastern Banjo Frog) and they are loud. If there is a female within a kilometre I think our dam will get pretty lucky tonight.

Jill Weatherhead is garden designer, horticulturist and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design ( working in Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges and Victoria.

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